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Niagara College risks censure over Saudi campuses

OPSEU College Faculty - collegefaculty.org

Toronto – In a letter this week to the president of Niagara College, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) says the college will face censure if it fails to resolve concerns over its Saudi Arabian campuses.

Censure is the most serious sanction that can be applied by CAUT, and has not been used since 2006. Imposing it would mean that Canadian academics would be asked not to accept positions at Niagara, not to speak at or participate in conferences held at the college, and not to accept any honours or distinctions from the college.

The college shouldn’t take the threat of censure lightly, the chair of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)’s College Academic Division says.

“This threatens Niagara College’s reputation, both at home and abroad,” said RM Kennedy. “With these campuses, Niagara is supporting the kind of enforced segregation that has been rejected around the world. Separating individuals based on discriminatory thinking is simply unacceptable.

 “When will the administration recognize that this type of engagement does nothing to help Saudi Arabian citizens, and simply supports the discriminatory system at work in that country?” added Kennedy.

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas argued that public dollars from Ontarians shouldn’t be funding a system that is so fundamentally at odds with Ontario values.

 “It’s ridiculous – women can’t even attend classes without the permission of a male guardian,” said Thomas. “This is a regime that doesn’t reflect what we believe in, and our publicly-funded colleges shouldn’t be propping it up.

“Ontarians have invested over the years to build up a college system we can be proud of, one with a reputation for freedom of thought, excellence of education, and equality of access. Why are we undermining that through ventures like this?”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931